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Seven Gates to the Same Apartment Complex - 93%

bayern, November 6th, 2018

… only if you could find this constantly drunk keeper of the seven keys so you could get inside. I got the band’s two full-lengths, some time in the mid-00’s, exclusively based on the name; as I had already embraced the technical/progressive side of the good old metal, there was no way I was going to miss out on a band with that moniker. I remember I spent some time thinking over the word “complex”, whether it was a noun or an adjective in this particular case, and I can’t recall exactly why I settled for the former option… could have been under the influence of the Tobe Hooper (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) quirky made-for-TV mystery thriller “The Apartment Complex” that I saw around the same time (a very good, very peculiar movie, by the way).

Please note that the complexity here comes multiplied by seven; a sacred number for many a human out there. In other words, don’t expect the water to flow smoothly here; this is going to be a fairly unpredictable, and highly thrilling for that reason ride that will take you way beyond the atmospheric gothic-tinged thrashisms the guys unleashed once upon a time in the 90’s under the name Demimonde (one demo in 1995).

Here the monde is not demi, but full-on and the fans can only benefit from this although they’ll be thrown down the very deep end from the get-go with the disorienting surreal rifforama “Identity” which jumps from attention-grabbing Psychotic Waltz-esque melo-abstractism to disturbing Mekong Delta-sque atonality just like that, searching for its identity the whole time, the vocalist helping his colleagues stupefying the listener with his versatile performance ranging from intense, nearly deathy, semi-recitals to some notable clean pathos-like singing. There’s very little musical immediacy to be encountered here, a couple of very short balladic respites (the short acoustic closer “Lifeblood”) notwithstanding; even short cuts like “Time-Place-Insanity” and “C-Complex” are chokefull of jarring, mind-scratching riffs those boldly bordering on thrash more than just now and then although by no means expect anything to develop beyond the mid-tempo. However, the guys are in their full nature on the longer, more entangled compositions (“The Experiment”, “The World's Farewell”), labyrinthine very dense shredders with myriad time-signatures and unexpected mood shifts, fairly thrilling rides which fans of the unorthodox in music may spend days listening to. Those give a nearly encyclopaedic overview on the entire progressive metal kaleidoscope leaving the rest of the material either to take care of the more eclectic, left-hand-path (the creepy unnerving “Public Long Distance Traffic”) side of said kaleidoscope, or to indulge in a fountain of seemingly never-ending riff-spirals (“Soulbutchers”) ala Zero Hour.

A lot of water will have flowed before this over an hour-long journey is over, and the listener will emerge quite satisfied with this profuse “shower”, full of memories of some of the finest works on the metal circuit. Although this eye-opener appeared at the dawn of the old school revival campaign, it doesn’t blindly follow the retro metal canons; there’s this neurotic, almost abrasive at times, vibe which is definitely a vestige from the previous decade, recalling the one from 90’s visionary works like Aleister’s “Tribal Tech” and Aftermath’s “Eyes of Tomorrow”. The riff-density is quite big on quite a few times, and the listener may get lost a bit on the longer pieces, especially on those moments when the pace shifts abruptly, in a near impromptu-like manner, like the guys have suddenly set their minds on a change of course in the middle of the song, amazingly synchronizing their efforts almost instantly for this passage’s successful execution.

There isn’t a full-on stream-of-consciousness approach at play here, though; for most of the time the album flows under more logical terms, the complex riff-patterns again surely reaching the 7th level, but the level of abstractism by no means reaching this top, to these ears for the better. I remember some fans tried to liken the band’s style, we’re talking the album here above all, to the one of the 90’s technical/progressive thrash movement from their homeland, something like an attempt to inject more life to this already extinct at the time wave... The thing is that there’s not much ground for such classification; full-on thrash never occurs here, and its attainment has never been the guys’ agenda. Besides, the construction of the tracks here is way more contrived and more challenging to absorb, the only opus from said movement that comes close to these mazey configurations being Deterrent’s bizarre piece of chaos “Re-Invention”, and partially Skeptic Sense’s “Presence of Mind”. The band’s target is the more elaborate, more oddball side of the progressive metal field, where auteurs like Zero Hour and Psychotic Waltz reside(d), and this target has been very handsomely hit…

Twice more in the next few years, as a matter of fact; first with the less aggressive, but equally as captivating sophomore, and later with the excellent, more thrash-peppered again EP. There’s not much happening in these artists’ camp, at least not on a visible/audible official stage; but I’m sure that, if you manage to find this elusive keeper and buy him a bottle of Jack Daniels, he will gladly let you inside the complex where definitely more pleasant surprises will befall you.